SUNDERLAND have beaten off competition from Celtic and Wigan to secure the signing of Patrick Roberts – and are hoping to wrap up a deal for the midfielder in time for him to make his debut in Saturday’s home game with Portsmouth.

The Black Cats first held discussions over Roberts at the start of the month, but things have been complicated by the 24-year-old’s current contractual situation in France.

Roberts has spent the first half of the season on loan at Ligue 1 side Troyes, and Manchester City, his current permanent employers, have had to negotiate with the French club to cut short his temporary deal. Roberts has made just one senior appearance for Troyes since moving to France in the summer.

Sunderland officials then had to strike a deal with the Manchester City hierarchy over a player who is due to become a free agent in the summer, but their interest alerted other clubs to the possibility of landing Roberts.

Celtic made an approach of their own, with Roberts having won three Scottish Premier League titles during his two previous loan spells at Parkhead.

Wigan also tabled an offer for the attacking midfielder, but Sunderland’s persistence is understood to have paid off with Manchester City having given the green light to a deal involving the Black Cats at the weekend.

Roberts, who has had a previous loan spell in the North-East with Middlesbrough, is due to travel to Wearside to undergo a medical and finalise personal terms this week, with Lee Johnson hoping to be able to include him in his squad to face Pompey at the weekend.

“You’re in the mix for players, but there’s fierce competition,” said Johnson, in the wake of Sunderland’s 1-1 draw at Accrington on Saturday. “We’re in the mix and we’re active, and there’s been a lot of support from board level to do the right things. I’m comfortable and happy with the squad, though of course I’d like to improve it.”

Sunderland officials have also made contact with Jermain Defoe and his representatives, with the former Black Cats striker having ended his time at Rangers last week.

Defoe would like to spend the remainder of the season seeing out his playing career before moving into a full-time coaching role somewhere at the end of the campaign.

Sunderland are interested in offering him a return to the Stadium of Light, although it is understood that at least two Championship clubs have also been in touch with the former England international.